The tragic consequences of child neglect suggest that significantly greater efforts should be directed toward prevention. Prevention requires the development of a range of services to parents at risk of neglect, and their children who are potential victims. Prevention of neglect requires action on three levels.
Primary prevention is directed at the general population with the goal of stopping neglect from occurring.
Primary prevention requires that public services be available in the community to support the efforts of parents to provide adequate care for their children. When these services are unavailable to parents, children are at risk for neglect. The necessary services include the following:
Affordable, geographically accessible health care for mothers and children that includes prenatal and obstetric care, preventive pediatric care and treatment for illness, public health screening, health promotion, and immunization and other disease prevention services.
High-quality public education with curricula that includes age-appropriate life skills training for children, and parent education for all older elementary and high school students and adults.
Parks and recreation programs for children of all ages offered through public and private agencies to provide safe activities to enhance physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development, and after school supervision for school-aged children.
Secondary prevention calls for targeting families at high risk of neglect and alleviating conditions associated with the problem.
There are several different methods used to target families that are at risk of becoming neglectful.
Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education programs for preschool children have documented their effectiveness in significantly enhancing the cognitive and social development of children from impoverished families. Numerous studies have documented the significant and enduring improvements in intelligence, cognitive development, academic achievement, child health, and social emotional development for children who were enrolled in full-year Head Start preschool programs. Given the serious cognitive and academic deficits identified in child victims of neglect, the provision of preschool early intervention programs, such as Head Start, is clearly indicated for neglected children. When compared with children from poor families who did not participate in programs, children who participated were clearly more successful and manifested less problem behavior in school. At age 19, the children who participated were more likely to be employed, less likely to be on welfare, and were less likely to be involved in delinquency or criminal behavior.
>> Continue to Page 16 >>